The good and the bad approaches

It was a shamrock, it was a shipwreck.

Doesn’t quite have the same gravitas as Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” opening salvo:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Nonetheless the shamrock and shipwreck are designations bestowed upon the city of Chula Vista by the Lucky Duck Foundation, a non-profit devoted to improving the lives of homeless people throughout San Diego County.

On Dec. 8 it introduced its inaugural Shamrocks and Shipwrecks designations, an evaluation of the county’s 18 municipalities and their approach to improving the lives of the unsheltered.

A shamrock, according to the foundation, denotes programs and efforts that are being made to drive progress in addressing the immediate needs of the homeless while a shipwreck calls attention to actions that are not working or have been detrimental and should be stopped or curtailed.

On the bright side for Chula Vista is the partnership the city has established with the McAlister Institute, creating the Work for Hope program.

Through Work for Hope the Chula Vista police department and the public works department helps people find work and housing by offering “on-the-job training and work training stipends” to improve city parks.

Some of the work includes the painting of public bathrooms, structure restoration, sign repair and weed abatement. The foundation reports that 147 of the 168 people who have passed through the program during its four year run have found long term housing and employment.

The partnership, Lucky Duck suggests, should be used as a model emulated by other cities in the region.

On the other hand Chula Vista’s good ship of progress took a hit because of the shipwreck designation.

The foundation found fault with the city’s overall approach to providing shelter for the homeless. Two years ago the city announced it was going to provide temporary shelter for more than 100 people via a giant tent but it changed its mind.

Now scaled down accommodations are expected to be provide 66 pallet homes for the unsheltered. In 2023.

Better late than never and some is better than nothing. Of course, that’s little solace to those on a sinking ship.